Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oven Roasted Vegetables


An easy way to draw out the flavor of vegetables is to oven roast them. Most root vegetables cook up using this method very well. The vegetables caramelize and develop a pleasant depth of flavor. I use a variety of vegetables in combination. Some of the possibilities are:

Onions
Celery
Carrots
Sweet potatoes
White potatoes
Rutabagas
Parsnips
Turnips
Zucchini
Winter squash such as acorn

The vegetables should be roughly cut up into medium sized pieces. I don't peel white potatoes, but everything else I do peel. When using zucchini, cut them into larger pieces than the other vegetables as they take less time to cook. Put all the vegetables onto a shallow baking pan. A jelly roll pan works well. Sprinkle olive oil over vegetables and mix them well to cover. Add pepper, salt and garlic powder. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning vegetables over once about halfway through the cooking process, until vegetables are browned and soft.

They make a great accompaniment to roast chicken, pork or beef.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rosette Cookies

Rosette cookies are a cookie made from very light batter that is deep fried. A rosette iron is used to make them. They are of Norwegian origin, and are made as a Christmas treat.  Rosette irons come in many shapes and sizes. The more expensive ones are made from cast iron while the less expensive ones are made from cast aluminum. Mine is aluminum and works very well.


The most important thing with making rosettes is the temperature of the oil. It must be kept between 350-375 degrees. Any cooler and the cookie won't cook quickly and evenly as it should, any hotter and the cookie may burn or stick to the iron.  You can use an electric fryer with a thermostat, but I use a cast iron skillet and a thermometer.  The picture on the right shows my setup with a cast iron skillet filled half way with vegetable oil and a probe thermometer hanging halfway into the oil to keep tabs on the temperature.  If you do it this way, keep your eye on the thermometer. You'll probably have to make slight heat adjustments to keep the temperature within the 365-375 degree range.

Rosette Cookie Batter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Beat together eggs, salt and sugar. Add rest of ingredients and beat until smooth. 

Pour oil into pan or fryer, making sure to fill no more than half way to allow for expansion of hot oil when food is placed into it. Make sure you have the lid for the pan or fryer close by.  There is always a risk of oil catching on fire (although it is minimal if you keep it below 375 degrees) and the best way to douse an oil fire is by placing a lid on it.  Safety first!



Make sure rosette iron is clean and dry. After oil comes to temperature. put iron in oil for a minute or two so that it heats up.







Shake off excess oil, and dip iron into batter, but not all the way to the top. Leave a quarter inch or so from the top of the iron, otherwise the batter will cook over the iron and the cookie will be difficult to remove.








Place batter-coated iron into hot oil and cook for about 30 seconds or until brown.  







The cookie may slip off the iron when still in the oil. Just remove it with a metal turner.  If the cookie doesn't come off the iron in the hot oil, give it a gentle shake and it usually will fall off, or gently remove it by putting a metal turner edge alongside one of the edges of the cookie. Place it on a wire rack with paper towels underneath to drain.



Continue this procedure until all the batter is used up.  It may take a few tries to get a perfect cookie, but with practice you'll be cranking them out in good order. Just remember to keep that temperature between 365-375 degrees and you'll be rewarded with some of the lightest, crispiest cookies you've ever eaten! Once the cookies are done, dust them with powdered sugar and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Salt-Cured Salmon Salad

Salt curing will reduce the size of the fish and concentrate the flavors. As long as the fish is rinsed very well with plenty of cool water after it is cured, it won't be overly salty in flavor.
  • 1/2 lb. fresh skinless, boneless salmon fillet
  • 1 cup pickling or Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 medium head Napa cabbage
  • 1 lime
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 small clove garlic
Combine salt and sugar. Place half of the mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap, making sure to spread it out to a size as large as the piece of fish.  Put fish on top, place rest of salt and sugar mixture on top of fish. Wrap the fish with the plastic wrap and place in a large plastic bag. Place bag ont oa plate and put in the refrigerator and let cure for at least 24 hours.

After fish is cured, remove from bag and unwrap over the sink. The plastic will be full of liquid that has been leeched out of the fish by the salt.  The fish will be dry and hard when it is properly cured. Rinse repeatedly under cool water to remove as much salt as possible.  Don't skimp on the water, take your time and make sure all the salt is removed or the fish will be too salty and spoil the dish.

Mince garlic and place in the bottom of a large bowl. Chop the Napa cabbage up and place in bowl along with garlic and toss until mixed. Cut up green onions fine and dice the Roma tomatoes. Add to cabbage in bowl.  Cut up salmon into thin strips and add to bowl. Add the juice of the lime and a little black pepper, toss until all ingredients are well mixed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cow Pie Cookies

A simple, easy and quick recipe that makes a really good chocolate cookie. It's the perfect dessert to go with a good mess of Cowboy Beans!
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture,  mix until well blended. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing. Substitute unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts instead of the walnuts for a great taste variation. Cocoa powder is cocoa solids minus the cocoa fat or cocoa butter.

Cocoa solids hold all the chocolate flavor, are low in calories and carry all of the beneficial antioxidants that have been found to help prevent many diseases.   The solids and fat are separated by pressing, which can lead to an acidic taste tin the chocolate.  Solids that have been produced by the Dutch process are less acidic and have the traditional brown color associated with chocolate.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pan Fried Potatoes


There's hardly anything better for a side dish than pan fried potatoes.  I like to cut the potatoes in varying thicknesses. That way there is a variety of textures to the dish, as the thinner cut will cook quickly and almost melt away while the thicker cut will cook slowly and become mealy on the inside and golden brown on the outside.

This is a great dish to cook in a cast iron skillet.  Cast iron distributes the heat more evenly and doesn't cool down as much when food is put into a hot pan.

Pan Fried Potatoes

5 or 6 medium to large sized russet potatoes
1 large or 2 medium onions
2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 pieces of bacon or Canadian bacon
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP olive oil

Peel potatoes and onions. Slice both into varying thicknesses, keeping in mind the thicker the piece the longer it will take to cook.  A mandolin works great for this, but I use my poor man's mandolin (pictured to the left). Strictly low-tech, but it gets the job done. I have no idea where I got it, but it works quite well. It's adjustable and can slice very thin to very thick. And it may look innocent enough, but the blade on the thing is very sharp.

Heat large skillet. Dice bacon and fry until crispy. If using Canadian bacon, it won't take as long to cook.  Drain all or some of the bacon fat out of pan,put in olive oil and butter. When butter and oil have heated through, put in potatoes and onions. Cover potatoes and onions with the oil and butter by turning the potatoes.  Add garlic powder, salt and pepper, and turn over potatoes some more to mix.  Let potatoes cook over medium high heat, turn every five minutes or so. don't have the heat too high.  Really good fried potatoes can take awhile to cook, depending on the thickness of them. When potatoes start to get brown and are cooked through, serve immediately.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

A great from-scratch recipe for waffles that can also be used for pancakes.  Buttermilk adds a unique flavor to these waffles.  Traditional buttermilk was the liquid that was left over after churning butter, but modern cultured buttermilk is made by the addition of lactic acid bacteria. This bacteria thickens the milk and gives it a tart taste. Modern cultured buttermilk is much thicker than traditional.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Batter
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup regular flour
  • 2 cups scalded and cooled buttermilk
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup regular milk
  • 1/4 cup salad oil
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine buttermilk and flours. Beat until well blended. Let sit for 30 minutes, or cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

Beat together eggs, milk and salad oil. Add to flour mixture and stir until blended. Combine sugar, salt and baking soda. Stir into batter until well blended and let stand for 5 minutes. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons

This recipe is quick and easy with a minimum of ingredients and a maximum of sweet flavor. 

3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 bag (4 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine  coconut and flour. Add vanilla and condensed milk to coconut mixture and blend well. It will be very thick and sticky. Add chocolate chips and blend until combined well.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto an oiled cookie sheet.  I like to leave them rather gnarly. That way  when they cook there will be differing degrees of doneness, from crispy around the edges to chewy in the middle. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until they are brown around the edges.  The chocolate chips may be omitted to make plain coconut macaroons.


Coconut facts:
  • The first documented mention of the word coconut in English was in 1555
  • The name coconut was derived from a Portuguese word that means monkey face from the three indentations in the end of it
  • The coconut is not a nut at all, but a seed

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Another sweet memory from my youth! This recipe is pretty easy, as it uses a boxed yellow cake mix and canned pineapple. Of course you can substitute your favorite yellow cake from scratch recipe if you wish and fresh pineapple.  I make this recipe in a 10" cast iron skillet and it works great.
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pineapple rings
  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the cast iron skillet on medium heat, and place butter and brown sugar in it. When both have melted, place pineapple rings on the bottom of the skillet, and cut the rings in half and line the sides of the skillet standing up on edge. Put a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

Prepare the yellow cake mix per the instructions on the box, but substitute all or part of the water called for with pineapple juice from the can of pineapple rings. Pour the cake batter over the pineapple rings in the skillet and place in oven.  Cook for length of time suggested on the cake mix box, and use the toothpick test to make sure it is done. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake and when it comes out clean the cake is done.

When done, remove the cake and run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the skillet. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then comes the trickiest part of the whole recipe; turn it upside down on a serving platter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Parsley - Not Just A Garnish

Parsley has been known since the ancient Greeks, and before. It  was recommended by the father of medicine Hippocrates as a cure for many ailments.  Ancient Greeks used it in a wreath for crowning the winners of sporting events and hung it on tombs.  The name parsely comes from two greek words, petros and selinon which literally translates as rock celery, no doubt because this herb originally grew wild on the rocky coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.

It was used as a medicinal herb long before it was eaten.  It was used to control blood pressure,  a tonic to strengthen the bladder, was rubbed on mosquito bites to stop itching, and many other uses. There is evidence in medieval Europe of parsley being used as a food, and also being worn around the neck to absorb food odors and as a poison antidote.

There are two main varieties of leaf parsley; curly leaf and flat leaf. The flat leaf or Italian Parsley has a bit stronger flavor and is mostly used in cooking. The curly leaf is used in cooking and as a garnish.  Parsley has a fresh, earthy flavor and is good in rice and potato dishes, in salads, in soups and stews.  And of course, as a garnish on dishes that can be eaten as a breath freshener after the meal.

Which to use, fresh or dried parsley?  With many herbs,  using dried versus fresh is a matter of using less of the dried because of the concentration of flavor.  With parsley,  fresh flat leaf parsley has the most flavor and should be used whenever possible. Dried parsley is very mild.

Don't Throw Away That Turkey Carcass! Make Turkey Stock!

You know the scene after a typical Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner.  Someone cleans all the meat off the turkey bones and saves it for sandwiches.  Then all the bones and skin gets tossed out. Don't do it! A delicious and versatile stock can be made quite easily out of the bits and pieces that can be used to make turkey soup. 

Turkey Stock
  • All the bones and skin from leftover roast turkey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 onions washed but unpeeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 carrots washed but unpeeled and cut into big pieces
  • 2 ribs of celery cut into big pieces
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic, washed but unpeeled and smashed
  • 3 sprigs of parsley, whole

 Put all ingredients into a large stock pot.  Add enough water to within an inch of the top of the pot. Heat to just below boiling, then turn fire down to a low simmer. There will probably be a foam that forms from the vegetables, skim this off the surface until no more forms.  Try not to let the water reach a full boil, as this will cause some of the bones to break down and give the stock an off flavor. Simmer for 2-4 hours with the lid off.  You want some of the water to evaporate so the stock will be more concentrated in flavor. After it's done simmering, strain the liquid and put it into a large bowl. Place it in the refrigerator overnight to cool.  After it has cooled, all of the fat will have congealed on the surface of the stock. This seals the stock and helps to keep it fresh for up to a week.  You can skim as much of the fat off that you do not want, and either use the stock immediately or freeze it.

This stock is great for turkey noodle soup, turkey stew, and any other recipe that uses any kind of
poultry stock. The stock will be a gel when it is cold, which signifies how rich and flavorful it is. The more it has gelled, the better it is!

You may have noticed that I use no salt when making this stock. I prefer to season the stock when I use it. If you put salt in it when you make it, it can be hard to judge how salty it will be when it reduces.

You can use this recipe to make stock from roast chicken leftovers too. And don't just eat turkey on Thanksgiving! Turkey is one of the healthier meats you can eat (as long as you don't overdo it with the skin and fat!) and it is very versatile too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blonde Brownies

What's better than a gooey, rich Chocolate Brownie? A Blonde Brownie! Maybe not better, but darned good in their own right. My Mom used to make Blonde Brownies for her seven kids, and they certainly didn't last long! Blonde Brownies are made without chocolate (for the most part, although my Mom always sprinkled chocolate chips on the top of hers) and are made sweet and chewy with brown sugar.

Blonde Brownies
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • chocolate chips (optional)
Combine flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Add the chopped nuts to this mixture. Melt butter and add brown sugar in separate bowl. Mix well, and add eggs and vanilla to brown sugar mixture. Slowly add flour mixture and mix together thoroughly. Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan, sprinkle chocolate chips on the top if desired. Bake at 325 degree oven for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kale And Chicken Stir Fry

Kale is in the same family of vegetables as cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and a whole lot more too numerous to mention. They are all classified as cruciferous vegetables .

There are numerous benefits derived from eating these kinds of vegetables. Preliminary studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables can lessen the chances of developing cancer and diabetes, just two examples of the benefits of these vegetables.

All of them are also high in many essential vitamins and minerals, with Kale being one of the highest in concentrations of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein and calcium. To reap the benefits of all the goodness within these vegetables it is best to eat them raw. When cooking, it is best to steam or stir fry them.

Healthy is one thing, but how do they taste? For those that find some of these vegetables too strong in flavor, stir frying is an excellent way to offset any bold flavor with other flavors.

To prep Kale, wash thoroughly as the crinkly leaves of some varieties can hold dirt and grit. Make sure you remove the leafy part all the way up both sides of the stem. The stem is too tough to eat on its own, but it can be used to make a vegetable stock .


Kale And Chicken Stir Fry

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 8 ounces of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced on an angle
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 green onions cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can baby corn
  • 2 TBSP peanut oil
  • 1 tsp sherry
  • 1 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 TBSP oyster sauce
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Clean and destem Kale and tear into pieces. Prep all other vegetables and cut up chicken into bite sized pieces. Combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, corn starch and sesame oil in a small bowl. Add enough cold water to dissolve the corn starch.

Heat up wok. When hot, add peanut oil. Add chicken and diced onion. Stir fry for a minute or two, then add sherry. Stir fry until meat is cooked through. Remove chicken and onions and set aside.

Add more oil to wok if needed. Add mushrooms, carrot, celery and green onions. Stir fry for one minute. Add Kale and baby corn. Stir fry until Kale wilts, then add chicken back into wok. Stir fry for a minute while thoroughly combining all ingredients in the wok. Stir the corn starch mixture and then add to wok. Continue stir frying until mixture thickens. Serve on rice or oriental noodles.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sandy Noodles

An easy and quick side dish that's a break from potatoes.

Sandy Noodles

  • 1 package of whole grain noodles or any kind of pasta
  • 1/2 stick butter or margarine
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced fine
  • 3 TBSP fresh basil chopped fine, or 3 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped fine, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup whole grain cracker crumbs
Cook noodles or pasta per directions on the package. When done, drain. Add butter and olive oil to pan big enough to hold and mix the cooked pasta. Put on medium heat to melt butter. When butter is melted, add cooked noodles. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Egg Foo Yong


One of my favorite Chinese foods is Egg Foo Yong, which is nothing more than a Chinese-style omelet. Egg Foo Yong is like the 'Chinese' dish Chop Suey in that it was not developed in China, but in America by Chinese chefs. This dish can be cooked in a wok, but a cast iron skillet or griddle works much better, as more can be cooked at one time.

Egg Foo Yong

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup drained bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup Chinese Napa cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • peanut oil for cooking

Sauce

  • 1 cup cold water, or beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

Break eggs into large bowl. Whisk eggs together with fork. Add bean sprouts, cabbage, celery, onion and salt and combine. Heat wok or skillet, put in a tablespoon or two of peanut oil. When oil is hot, add about 1/3 of a cup of the egg mixture. Fry until golden brown, turn over and fry other side until golden brown. Continue until all egg mixture has been used.

In a small saucepan, combine water, soy sauce, garlic powder and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When mixture boils, turn down fire to simmer and add mushroom pieces. Continue to cook sauce until mushrooms are warmed through. Serve over Egg Foo Yong.

A versatile recipe that you can add 1/2 cup of cooked ham, pork, beef, seafood or even cheese to the egg mixture.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oriental Beer Batter Chicken With Rainbow Peppers

A recipe that highlights the versatility of the wok as a deep fry and stir fry pan. As a safety feature when using the wok to deep fry, always have the lid nearby! There is a possibility of a wok or any other vessel that has hot oil in it to ignite. Quickly putting on the lid will snuff the flames out. NEVER try to put out an oil fire with water!

  • Boned chicken breast or thigh meat cut into strips
  • flour
  • beer
  • 1 green bell pepper cut in thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper cut in thin strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced diagonally
  • 3 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

There needs to be room for displacement when the food to be cooked is added, so fill the wok less than half way with oil. Heat to 350 degrees.

Put enough flour for the amount of chicken to be cooked into a large bowl. Slowly add enough beer, (preferably room temperature, even better if it's been opened for a few days and has turned stale) stirring constantly until a smooth batter forms, about the consistency of thin pancake batter. Set aside. Put one cup of flour into a plastic or paper sack. Add chicken to flour in bag and shake to coat. This is done to help the batter stick to the chicken. Remove chicken from bag of flour and dredge into batter mixture. Let excess drip off. CAREFULLY put into hot oil in wok. Turn food over occasionally while cooking. Chicken strips take less time to cook than pieces with the bone still in. When pieces float and have a nice color, remove a piece of it and test for doneness. When done, drain on rack or paper towel, set aside.

Combine soy sauce, chicken stock and cornstarch. Stir until blended, set aside.

Carefully pour out all but two tablespoons of the oil from wok. When oil is hot, stir fry all the vegetables for 2 minutes. Add the cooked chicken; stir-fry with vegetables for 1 minute. Add corn starch/broth/soy sauce mixture and cook until sauce thickens. Serve over rice or oriental noodles.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

It is hard to find better culinary companions than pork and apples. One of the finest cuts of any kind of meat is pork tenderloin. When cooked well, it is tender, succulent, and lower in fat than you might think. This recipe roasts a pair of pork tenderloins with an apple stuffing. Any firm, tart apple works best for this recipe. Honeycrisp is my favorite apple to eat out of hand and to use in cooking, and it works very well in this recipe.

Take a pair of pork tenderloins (many times they are sold in pairs, about 4 pounds per pair) separate them and make a groove in each half of the tenderloin for the stuffing. Set aside.

Stuffing

1 medium apple or 1/2 large apple, Red Delicious or Honeycrisp, peeled and cubed
4 pieces whole wheat bread, toasted and cut into small cubes
1/4 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stuff each tenderloin and then put them together with the stuffing sides facing. Tie them together with butcher's twine.

Sprinkle tied tenderloin with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place on a rack sitting in a jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Roast in a 375 degree oven until the internal temperature of the meat is 170 degrees. When meat is done, take out of oven and let rest for at least ten minutes.

Excellent served with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes or yams. Add a vegetable and the meal is complete.



Orange Flavored Pork


This recipe has the natural sweetness and flavor of orange juice and orange zest.
  • 1/2 pound boneless pork rib or pork chop
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly at an angle
  • 3 stalks of Bok Choy, cut into bite sized pieces at an angle
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thinly at an angle
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • Peanut oil
Cut the pork into bite sized cubes. Heat wok, and then add 1-2 tablespoons peanut oil. When oil is hot, add onion and pork. Stir-fry for a minute, and then add 1-tablespoon dry sherry. Stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until done. Remove pork from wok.

Wash the orange, and zest with a citrus zester or small grater. Don't go too deep into the peel. You want to get just the surface of the peel and not the white part. The peel is where the flavor is, the white part is bitter. Put orange zest in a 1-cup measuring cup and set aside. Cut the orange in half, and add the juice to the measuring cup with the orange zest. Add the remainder of the dry sherry and the soy sauce to the measuring cup. Add the cornstarch and enough water to make one cup of liquid. Stir to combine, and set aside.
Wipe out wok, reheat and add peanut oil when hot. When oil is hot, add all the vegetables and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the cooked pork and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir up the orange juice mixture in the measuring cup and add to the wok. Cook until the liquid boils and forms a sauce. Serve over brown rice or oriental noodles.

This dish can also be prepared with leftover pre-cooked pork. Prepare the orange sauce and stir fry the vegetables and add the meat after the vegetables have cooked and just before the orange sauce mixture.

Marjoram - More Subtle Than Oregano


Marjoram is an herb that is sometimes confused with oregano. The two herbs are both members of the mint family, but marjoram has a more subtle, sweet flavor. Marjoram is more flavorful when used dried than fresh, and should be used towards the end of preparing the dish, as too much heat will kill its flavor.

Ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated marjoram, and the herb was equated with happiness. The ancients believed that if marjoram grew over a grave that the one buried there would have a happy afterlife. Ancient Egyptians used the herb in embalming, and the herb is still associated with Egypt, for over 80 percent of all modern imported marjoram comes from there. It is an herb that is high in anti-oxidants and rich in Vitamins A and C.

It can be grown easily from seed, and should be planted in a sunny, fairly well drained area where the soil is not too rich. But marjoram tends to need more moisture than other herbs, so check it during very hot weather to make sure it is wet enough. It can also be grown as a potted plant. Springs of the herb should be harvested as the flower buds appear. Pick before it blooms for the best flavor. In milder climates it can be grown as a perennial, but in most areas it is an annual as it is very cold sensitive.

Marjoram is associated with many meat dishes around the world. It is used in Germany in the spice mixture used for sausages, as well as in France in bouquet garni and pickling solutions. Italian and Greek cuisines use the herb in meat dishes and in sauces. Marjoram also is used in body care products such as lotions, body soaps, skin cream, and even shaving gel.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Perfect Home Made Pizza

By following just a few simple and basic rules of thumb, anyone can make delicious pizza at home.
  • Use a good pizza dough - some folks use the refrigerated dough that comes in a roll, some use Bisquick or some other powdered mix. But why not make your own?
  • Use a pizza stone - This is essential. A good crust is half the battle in making a good pizza. There's no other way to make a great pizza crust in the home kitchen without using some sort of pizza stone.
  • Use a simple sauce - If using a stone and a good crust are only half the battle, what else is there? The sauce. If you're using a plain tomato sauce, don't use too much. Too much sauce and even a pizza cooked on a stone can come out pretty sloppy and the crust gooey. A little canned tomato sauce can be used. I actually use tomato paste thinned with a little dry sherry for flavor. Add oregano, basil, garlic powder and onion powder to the sauce for that Italian flavor. But spread it on thin.
  • Less is more - A great crust baked on a pizza stone with just the right amount of sauce on it can't cure a pizza that is overloaded. Stick to a few toppings. If you use pepperoni (the #1 pizza topping in the U.S.)remember that it has a lot of fat in it, and the fat will cook out and settle on your pizza. A little of this is great, too much of it and you've got a sloppy, greasy mess. Experiment with limiting yourself to no more than three toppings besides the cheese. Toppings can affect the time it takes to cook the pizza. Too many toppings and you may have to leave the pizza in the oven longer than usual and the crust will be burnt. Not a good thing! After you learn about how toppings and the amount of them affect the cooking time of the pizza, you'll be able to load the pizza up!
  • Use REAL cheese - Mozzarella is the standard. A little parmesan, scamorza, even cheddar and swiss can be used. Again, experiment and see what works and what you like. But by all means use REAL cheese. The plasticized, artificial cheese 'product' that you can buy in the cheese section of the grocery store may look like cheese, even smell like cheese. But it sure doesn't cook and taste like real mozzarella!
So experiment! Don't worry if you make a few boo-boos along the way. They will most likely still be edible. And if you really want to celebrate pizza, make a simple pie with sauce, basil and mozzarella cheese. Red, green and white are the colors of the Italian flag! Buon appetito!


Italian Gnocchi

Gnocchi are small dumplings. They are a very old form of food, and there are examples of recipes for Gnocchi that go back to the 13th century. Gnocchi can be made with many different ingredients like squash, bread, semolina flour, even eggplant. But modern Italian Gnocchi is made with potatoes.
  • 3 pounds of russet potatoes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Two dashes of salt
Be sure and use russet, or baking potatoes. Russet potatoes are high in starch and low in water content which will make the dumplings lighter in texture. Bake potatoes in the oven, microwave, or boil them until done. If potatoes are boiled, leave on the skins and remove after they are cooked. Too much moisture in the potatoes will cause excess absorption of flour, which will lead to a heavier dumpling. Run cooked potatoes through a food mill or ricer.

Put potatoes in a bowl and mix in the flour, egg and salt. Mix together until all ingredients are incorporated, and when loose dough begins to form take the dough into your hands and knead it gently for a few minutes until it forms a ball and dough becomes dry.

Roll dough into a long stick about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter. Cut into1 inch pieces. Use a fork and gently flick each piece with the fork to put small grooves in one side of the gnocchi. This will help hold the sauce.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, being careful not to put too many into the pot at once, and let cook until they float, about one minute. Remove cooked gnocchi from hot water and place into ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Continue until all the gnocchi are cooked. Removed cooled gnocchi from ice water onto a towel to drain.

The gnocchi can now be used like any other kind of pasta. They are especially good with pesto sauce, but can be used with any other type of Italian pasta sauce. Cooked and cooled gnocchi can also be tossed with olive oil and kept in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Crab Rangoon

Crab Rangoon is a staple of Chinese and most other kinds of oriental restaurants, but it is not a traditional Chinese dish. There are very few authentic Chinese dishes that call for any kind of cheese and none that use cream cheese.

There are two schools of thought concerning the origins of this dish. One states that it was a food that was introduced at the World's Fair held in St. Louis Missouri in 1904. The other story is that the dish was invented at the famous Trader Vic's Polynesian restaurant in Oakland California in the early 1950's. Whatever their origin, they're tasty, and easy to make.

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh or canned crab meat
  • wonton skins
  • oil for frying

Break up crab meat and combine with cream cheese. Add remaining ingredients (except for wonton skins) one at a time, thoroughly mixing before adding another ingredient.

Lay out wonton skins and put 1 teaspoon of the mixture in the center of each wonton and spread it out, leaving enough of the edges of the wonton bare that they can be pressed together. Wet the edges of the wonton and fold to create a triangle, making sure to remove all the air before pressing the edges together. Continue until all mixture is used up, covering finished rangoons with a towel so they won't dry out.

Put frying oil in wok at least 2 inches deep. Heat oil to 360-375. Carefully slide in wontons and let fry for about 3 minutes total, turning once half way through. Do wontons in batches, the number of each batch depending on the size of the wok.

Serve with sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, hot mustard, or eat them plain! Cooked or smoked salmon can be substituted for the crab. This recipe makes about 48 crab rangoon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Home Made Pasta

If you've got some time and are willing to put forth some effort, you can make your own home made pasta. The basic ingredients are:
  • 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
That's it. Some folks use a little (1/2 teaspoon) extra virgin olive oil in their pasta, but it is optional. This recipe makes pasta enough for 2 regular servings, so if you want more increase the amounts in the same proportions.

The classic way to make pasta is by putting the flour on a board, make a well in it, and put the egg and salt into the well. With a fork, gently mix the egg with the flour until a rough dough forms, then knead the dough with your hands until it becomes soft. But it can also be made in a bowl, a food processor or a mixer with a bread hook.

A few tips: If the dough is still too sticky, dust with a little flour and knead it some more. If the dough is too dry, sprinkle a little water on it and knead it in. The humidity in the air determines if a dough will be too sticky or dry with the basic recipe, so you'll need to act accordingly.

After the dough has been kneaded and is soft and elastic, wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes. This will help 'relax' the gluten in the dough and make it easier to roll out.

Folks who make pasta regularly invest in a pasta machine. While this does make for more uniform noodles, you don't need one. Take the dough after it has rested and separate it into small portions if you've made more than the basic recipe. Dust a board with flour, put the dough on the board and roll it out. Try to get the dough thin enough so that you can almost see through it. If the dough sticks, dust with a little flour.

When you have the dough as thin as you like, dust it with a little flour and roll it up like a jelly roll. With a very sharp knife, cut the roll into very thin slices. Unroll the pasta and let it dry for 20 minutes or so on the board, or drape it over a broom handle covered with plastic wrap that has been suspended between two chairs.
After drying, the pasta can be cooked or refrigerated for use within the next 2 or 3 days. Fresh pasta does not take as long to cook as fully dried pasta, only about 4 to 5 minutes, even less if the noodles are small and thin. You want to cook it al dente (to the tooth, a little firm in the middle, so watch fresh pasta closely as it cooks!

This basic recipe can be varied in many ways. Substitute whole wheat flour for the unbleached white flour for whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta dough will have a little different 'feel' to it. Or you can make spinach pasta. Cook 5 ounces of frozen spinach as directed, drain and let it cool. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach. The spinach should be about the size of a large egg when you're done. Mix it in with the egg before adding to the flour.

Pastas can be flavored with most anything. Add a little garlic, use a little tomato juice, let your imagination run free and experiment! Making home made pasta is easy. Add it to some home made sauce, and you've got a great meal.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Elephant Garlic Chicken

Elephant garlic is not actually garlic, but a type of leek. It gets its name because the individual cloves of elephant garlic are so large that they can be as big as an entire head of regular garlic. It is available in many large supermarkets. Elephant garlic has a much milder and sweeter taste than regular garlic. It can be eaten raw as a garnish or in salads as it does not have the heat or 'bite' of regular raw garlic. It lends a very delicate garlic flavor to this dish.

This is a recipe where all ingredients are put into the wok in turn. The meat is not cooked and then removed, but remains in the wok until the entire dish is finished. Notice the elephant Garlic is the last ingredient added. That's because this type of garlic needs very little cooking time, and if it is cooked too long it looses its mild flavor and turns bitter.

Marinade:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry

Other ingredients:
2 halves boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 clove elephant garlic
2 green onions
1 small can baby ears of corn
1 stalk celery, cut on a diagonal
1/4-teaspoon sesame seed oil
1-tablespoon cornstarch
1/2-cup cold water or chicken broth

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Put into a bowl and add marinade ingredients, making sure chicken gets well coated. Let marinade for at least 20 minutes.

Peel elephant garlic cloves and slice very thinly. Cut green onions into one-inch pieces on the diagonal. Cut celery into thin pieces on the diagonal. Open and drain can of baby ears of corn.

Heat wok. Add peanut oil when wok is hot. When oil come to temperature, add chicken and stir-fry for two minutes. Then add green onions, corn and celery. Continue to stir-fry until chicken is done, about 2-3 minutes. Combine water, cornstarch and sesame seed oil in a bowl. Add mixture to wok. Add elephant garlic after cornstarch mixture. Cook until mixture thickens. Serve over rice or noodles.


Fried Rice

A basic Chinese recipe, and a great way to use meat and rice leftovers. To cook basic long-grain white rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan that has a lid. When water is boiling, put in 1 cup rice and stir. When water returns to the boil, put on lid and turn the fire down to very low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Don't take the lid off the pan. For more flavor, beef or chicken stock can be used in place of water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to the water and it will turn the rice a pretty yellow color.

Pre-cooked rice
Any kind of leftover meat, cut up into bite sized pieces
2 eggs
1 package frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon sherry
soy sauce

Open bag of frozen peas into strainer, run under cold water and set aside to thaw and drain.

Heat wok, and then add 1-tablespoon peanut oil. Scramble eggs in wok, remove when done and set aside.

Wipe out wok, heat and add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Stir-fry onion, celery, carrot for 1 minute. Add drained peas, garlic, and sherry, stir-fry for 2 minutes. Crumble and add up to 3 cups of rice. Stir-fry for a minute, add 2 tablespoons soy. Continue to stir-fry until rice is warmed through. Add more soy if desired. Keep rice moving so it won't clump together. Add meat and combine thoroughly. Gently chop scrambled eggs and sprinkle on the top when done.

The variations on this basic recipe are endless. You can make it vegetarian by omitting the eggs and meat, or substituting tofu for the meat and eggs.

Lemon Fluff

Childhood memories involve a lot of things, not least of all the scents and flavors of foods we were raised on. I've been on a quest to recreate some of those scents and flavors I remember so well. I grew up in the 1950's, and there's a lot of folks out there that have some of the same food memories I have, as a quick search of the internet has shown. So I've managed to piece together a few of Mom's recipes.
One of these recipes was Lemon fluff, made with whipped lemon gelatin dessert and whipped evaporated milk.


Lemon Fluff

1 can chilled evaporated milk
1 (4 oz) package lemon gelatin dessert
1 ¾ cups boiling water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
graham cracker crumbs

Chill unopened can of milk in refrigerator 3 to 4 hours. Dissolve Jello in boiling water, chill until partially set. Whip partially set Jello until light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and sugar. Whip chilled milk until fluffy and fold into Jello mixture. Line bottom of 13 x 9 pan with graham cracker crumbs, reserving some for on top. Pour Jello mixture over crumbs, top with remaining crumbs. Chill until firm.

To make Orange Fluff, substitute Orange Jello and ¼ orange juice concentrate.

Mahogany Chicken Wings

This recipe results in chicken wings that are a brown color when cooked (hence the name). The sauce the wings are marinated in, along with the natural gelatin in the wings makes for delicious flavor and texture. Hoisin sauce and plum sauce can be found in many large supermarkets along with rice wine vinegar. Cider vinegar or white vinegar can be substituted for rice wine vinegar. For easy clean up, make sure and line the baking pan used to cook them with aluminum foil. The sauce will be very sticky and very hard to clean after it bakes on.
  • 5 lbs. chicken wings
  • 1-cup soy sauce
  • 1-cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup plum sauce
  • 3/4-cup honey
  • 3/4-cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 8 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
      Remove wing tips and separate wings at the joint. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. After mixture starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Allow mixture to cool completely. Put mixture into a large covered dish or large zip lock plastic bag, and add wing pieces. Put into refrigerator and allow to marinate at least overnight, or as long as two days, making sure mixture coats all the wings.

      When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and spread out wings in a single layer. When oven reaches temperature, place wings in oven and cook for 1 to 1.5 hours, turning wings every 15 minutes and basting with leftover marinate.

      Basil - The King Of Herbs

      Basil is a very fragrant herb that is related to mint. It is thought to have originated in India, Asia and Africa and has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. It has a slight flavor of anise and is used in Italian, Greek, and Asian cuisine. Its name comes from the Greek word for king. There are over 60 varieties of basil including those with purple leafs, ruffled leaves, large or lettuce leafed basils and oriental types. Genovese basil is the type used for the popular pesto sauce of Italian cuisine. There are also lemon and cinnamon flavored basils. The flavor of basil can be easily lost by cooking it too much, so it is most often added towards the end of cooking.

      Basil is a very healthful herb, as it provides the body protection from bacteria at a cellular level. It also has anti-inflammatory properties plus is rich in vitamins A and C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.

      Basil is best used fresh. It is very easy to grow, and should be sown directly into the garden in a spot that gets full sun and is well-drained. The soil should not be too rich, as basil does very well in poor soils. It is very sensitive to cold, and much prefers a lot of heat. Harvest when it starts to bloom for the best flavor. It also does well as a potted plant.

      Pesto sauce is the showcase recipe for this herb and is easily made:

      2 cups Genovese or sweet basil leaves
      1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
      1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
      3 cloves garlic
      1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
      1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
      1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

      Place basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Chop these ingredients by pulsing the processor until they are all roughly chopped. Remove contents from food processor and place in a bowl. Add olive oil and cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

      Pesto can be put over any freshly cooked pasta, a baked potato, a slice of pizza, even spread on a piece of toasted Italian or French bread.


      Yin and Yang, Sweet and Sour

      Chinese philosophy pays a great deal of attention to opposites. Light and dark, sad and happy, black and white. These concepts are called Yin and Yang. But these concepts are more than opposing. They are complimentary. There can be no light without dark, no dark without light. No heaven without earth, and no earth without heaven. This philosophy permeates all of Chinese culture, including their cuisine.

      The philosophy of Yin and Yang is represented in the familiar sweet and sour dishes in Chinese cuisine. The two flavors are opposite in the reactions and sensations they give the taste buds, but yet they also compliment each other, are both present in one dish to be savored separately and in combination with one another.
      A basic no-frills sweet and sour sauce can be made with the following ingredients:
      • 1 cup white sugar
      • 1 cup vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
      • 1/4 cup cold water
      Place sugar and vinegar in a saucepan. Stir together and put on stove. Heat mixture on high heat, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Add cornstarch to cold water, stir to combine. Put cornstarch mixture into vinegar/sugar mixture. Continue to stir until mixture boils again. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate. This sweet and sour sauce works best to cook with, not for the usual type that is more familiar and used for dipping.

      The following sweet and sour recipe can be used to make a more familiar kind of sauce for dipping:
      • 2/3 cup of rice vinegar
      • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
      • 2 tbsp of tomato ketchup
      • 4 tsp of cornstarch mixed with 8 tsp of water
      • 2 tsp of soy sauce
      Put rice vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup and soy sauce in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Thoroughly mix cornstarch with water, add to boiling contents of saucepan and stir until thick.




      The Tomato - From The New World

      Some history and facts about tomatoes:

      • Tomatoes are in the same botanical family as tobacco, peppers, potatoes, eggplant and the poisonous plant deadly nightshade.
      • Tomatoes are thought to have originated in South America and Mexico. These wild tomatoes were the size of the modern day cherry tomatoes.
      • The Mayan and other peoples of Central America and Mexico were the first people to domesticate the tomato.
      • Spanish explorers took the tomato from South America and Mexico and introduced it to the Caribbean area and the Philippines. From these areas the tomato moved to the Mediterranean and southeast Asia regions.
      • The tomato is a relatively recent cooking ingredient in Italy. The earliest record of tomato use in Italy was in a recipe in a 17th century cookbook.
      • The tomato was first grown in England in the last decade of the 16th century. It was considered poisonous and used only as a table decoration until the early 1700's.
      • Tomatoes were also considered poisonous in early America, even though Thomas Jefferson ate them in Paris, brought back seeds and grew them in his garden.
      • Tomatoes are a very healthy food. Studies have shown that a diet including tomatoes can reduce the risk of heart problems, reduce the risk of prostate disease, good for pancreatic health, colon health, antioxidant and cancer prevention qualities.
      • There were over 130 million tons of tomatoes produced in 2005. China is the largest producer of tomatoes and accounts for 25% of total world production.
      • The tomato is technically a fruit, more specifically a berry. It is used more as a vegetable because it does not have the sweet flavor usually associated with fruits.
      • The record for the heaviest tomato grown is 7 ponds, 12 ounces grown in Oklahoma in 1986.
      • The largest tomato plant on record is one that reached 65 feet in length, grown in England in 2000.
      • The fruit of the tomato comes in a rainbow of colors. Red, pink, green, purple, yellow, orange, even a white tomato.
      • The Campbell Soup Company introduced their canned Tomato Soup in 1897 and it has been one of their biggest sellers ever since.

      Oregano - Herb of the Mediterranean

      Oregano is an herb most thought of as an ingredient in many types of Italian food. Oregano has a wonderfully aromatic and warm smell when used in Italian dishes like pizza and it is a great compliment to any tomato-based pasta sauce. But it is actually an herb that is used in all types of Mediterranean cooking, and is an ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Mexican oregano is thought to be the strongest variety. Oregano is sometimes confused with marjoram. The two herbs are somewhat similar, but marjoram (also called sweet marjoram) is milder and has a slight sweet flavor.

      Oregano originates from Northern Europe, and grows in many other areas of the world. Ancient Greeks and Romans treasured the herb not only for cooking. They considered it to represent joy and happiness and would present bunches of it to newlywed couples. The name oregano is derived from ancient Greek and means 'Joy of the mountain'. Oregano is also a very healthy herb, and is high in anti-oxidants and is a good anti-bacterial. It is a good source of dietary fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, and vitamins A and C.

      Fresh oregano is preferred over dried as the flavor is more intense and complex. Whether it is used fresh or dried, oregano should be added towards the end of the cooking time of a dish, as too much heat can lessen its flavor. A few sprigs of fresh oregano can be put into a bottle of olive oil to flavor it. Like many herbs, oregano is easy to grow. Plant a few seeds in a spot that gets full sun and where the soil is well drained and not too rich. In areas of the U.S that have harsh winters, the plant can be grown as an annual, as a perennial in milder climates. It also does well as a potted plant. Pick fresh oregano from the plant just before flowers appear for the best flavor.

      Whether used for Italian, Spanish, Mexican or Greek dishes, oregano is one of the great herbs that not only imparts good flavor and aroma, but also is very healthy.


      Basic Pizza Dough

      This dough uses olive oil and two packets of rapid rise yeast to create a basic pizza dough.

      6 cups (approximately) white flour
      1/4 cup corn meal
      2 tablespoons sugar
      4 tablespoons olive oil
      2 cups warm water
      2 packages rapid rise yeast

      This dough can be made in any kind of electric mixer that is heavy duty enough for dough making. Use a dough hook in the mixer. It can also be done by hand with a wooden spoon, but expect a real workout doing it that way.

      Put warm water in a large bowl. Add yeast and mix thoroughly. Add sugar and olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Add 2 cups of the flour and corn meal. Mix until a smooth batter forms. Add flour one cup at a time, mix thoroughly before adding the next cup, until 3 cups have been added. Add half of the remaining cup of flour, mix and turn out onto a floured board to knead. Knead dough, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and not real sticky. The amount of flour you'll use depends on the humidity and temperature, so the flour amount is not exact. Roll dough into a ball. Oil the inside of a a large bowl. Put dough in the bowl, then turn over. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise.

      Because of the two packets of rapid rise yeast used, the dough should double in size in about 30 minutes. Punch the dough down, and let rise again. Punch down dough, and it is ready to use. This versatile dough can be used for pizza, Italian bread, stromboli, calzone, or focaccia.
      Substitute 1-2 cups of whole wheat flour for the white flour to get a slightly heavier and tasty dough.


      Saturday, September 25, 2010

      Mongolian Beef

      This is a recipe that reflects the cooking techniques of northern China. The meaty flavor of this dish has made it popular, even with folks who don't usually like Chinese food.

      Sauce:
      2 teaspoons peanut oil
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      1/2-cup soy sauce
      1/2-cup water
      1/3-cup brown sugar
      1/2-teaspoon ginger, minced
      1/4-cup hoisin sauce

      Other ingredients:
      1 lb. Flank steak or sirloin
      12 green onions
      1/4 cup cornstarch

      Heat peanut oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, water, and hoisin. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Raise heat to being mixture to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes or until the sauce turns thick. Remove from fire and set aside.

      Cut steak across the grain into very thin strips. Coat meat with cornstarch and allow to sit for at least ten minutes. While meat sits, cut green onions into 1-inch pieces on a diagonal, and prepare chilies if you're going to use them.

      Heat wok. When hot, put in one cup of vegetable oil. When oil is ready, add cornstarch- coated meat and stir-fry until the edges of the meat turn brown. Remove meat with a slotted spoon. Remove oil and place meat back into wok. Pour prepared sauce over meat and stir-fry for one minute. Add green onions and stir-fry for another minute. Serve over brown rice.

      This dish is many times prepared in Szechwan style with hot peppers. To prepare this way, take two jalapeƱos or other hot peppers of comparable size and cut them into thin strips, add them with the green onions towards the end of cooking

      Garlic - The Left Footprint Of Satan

      Some facts and folklore about garlic:
      • Garlic is a member of the same family as the onion, leek and shallot.
      • The name 'garlic' comes from an Old English word that means 'spear leek'.
      • Garlic is thought to have originated in southeast Asia. It has been used in culinary and medicinal applications for at least 6,000 years.
      • China is by far the largest producer of garlic. In 2005 China produced 23 billion pounds of garlic, 75% of the world's total production.
      • There is an ancient Christian myth that says when Satan left the garden of Eden, garlic sprouted out of his left footprint.
      • Some have said that if a clove of garlic is crushed and rubbed on the sole of your foot that you will experience the taste of garlic on your tongue after a half hour or so.
      • Garlic is a natural blood thinner and massive consumption of it can lead to bleeding disorders.
      • Garlic as well as onions can be toxic to dogs and cats.
      • Garlic contains natural antibiotic and anti-fungal compounds. These compounds are released from the clove after it is crushed, but quickly break down in contact with air.
      • The sharp, hot flavor of raw garlic is caused by the breaking down of the cellular walls when garlic is chopped, crushed or minced. This releases various sulfur compounds which account for the sharp flavor. These compounds are removed when garlic is cooked, thus causing the garlic to mellow in flavor.
      • 'Garlic breath' that occurs after eating garlic is not only caused by residue of the garlic left in the mouth. It is the result of the digestion of the garlic and the odor is exhaled through the lungs. Any attempts at sweetening garlic breath will not actually stop it, only mask it.
      • In the United States, garlic was found only in ethnic dishes until the 1930's. Slang terms for garlic in the early 20th century were Bronx Vanilla and Italian Perfume.
      • Gangsters in the first half of the 20th century would rub crushed garlic cloves onto bullets they loaded into their guns. If anyone that was shot survived, they were likely to develop a serious infection from a garlic-rubbed bullet.
      • The smaller the piece of garlic, the stronger the flavor. So when you use it, the smaller you mince it the more you'll taste it.
      • Because of its odor, garlic is sometimes referred to as The Stinking Rose.
      My Zimbio